Road Trip to Kenton, Ohio, July 11

Ladies interested in joining the Tuesday morning breakfast group for a trip to Kenton, Ohio, on Tuesday, July 11, are encouraged to sign up for the day’s excursion.

The agenda includes some shopping, perhaps visiting the Hardin County Museum, and lunch at an all-volunteer restaurant called “Table One”.  The restaurant provides free meals for those who are hungry and do not have the resources to pay for the food.  Those of us who can pay will do so.  The menu is delicious.

A departure time will be announced in the near future.  Do keep this invent in mind, as the day will be very special.

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Daring Discipleship (Matthew 10:24-39)

Lose your life?  Find your life?  Do not be afraid?  What is there to fear?  Jesus did lay out very clearly the hard work, the commitment, and the fearlessness required of his disciples.  If nothing else, you couldn’t follow Jesus and not end up a little braver.  It would, at least, require some daring and fearlessness.  Discipleship still does.

In a few days, the 31st General Synod of the United Church of Christ will convene in Baltimore, Maryland.  They will gather under the bannered theme of “Make Glad.”  “Make Glad” is what a river in Psalm 46:4 does; it “Makes glad the city of God.”  For the thousands of people descending on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the theme will make immediate sense when they see the Patapsco River flowing through Baltimore Harbor into Chesapeake Bay.  “Make Glad” will also make metaphorical sense when we consider our baptism by water into a life of discipleship.  And, ultimately, discipleship is what all our General Synods are about.  They’re about what it means to follow Jesus as a big organization trying to stay true to the Gospel.  A Gospel that calls us to follow Jesus no matter where that may lead us.

The very first lines of Psalm 46 begin:  “God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear….”  “Make Glad,” then, is not a simple call to be happy for happiness’ sake but to know that in the midst of everything that might make us afraid, God is present breathing bravery.  After all, bravery begins in fear.  Only when you are afraid can you be brave.  We are called to follow God into service–wherever that may lead.  If our discipleship leads us into difficult and fearful places we can remember that the river that bears the water of our baptism “makes glad” the city of God.  As we prepare to gather in Baltimore let us also remember that on this day, 60 years ago in Cleveland, Ohio, at its first General Synod, the United Church of Christ was born.

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Sarah Laughed (Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7)

Stories always have many viewpoints.  In Genesis, the ancient and elderly Abraham is sitting by a tree and three men appear.  Abraham, recognizing them as divine emissaries, invites them to a meal and orders Sarah (his ancient and elderly wife) to make them food.  After she has served them, she sits, out of sight, and listens.  The four men set about to discuss Sarah’s future pregnancy.  Sarah laughs…out loud.  Wouldn’t you?  What a ridiculous idea it was that an old lady should get pregnant.  Of course, if Abraham is going to be the father of a great nation somebody has to get pregnant, and in this ancient tale of wandering tribes and tent societies Sarah is the only choice for matriarch.  But still she is scolded for her laugh.  Perhaps there is ancient embedded wisdom in the Erma Bombeck quote, “If you can laugh at it, you can live with it.”

As old as the old tales are, there isn’t much about human beings that hasn’t been told. Many a sitcom has begun with a spouse bringing unexpected company home for dinner. The saga of Abraham and Sarah is a story that walks between worlds of social class, power and gender.  In these motifs we can read a lot that resonates with our contemporary world.

Glennon Doyle Melton is a best-selling author who reflects on such contemporary stories. She facilitates an online community called Momastery.  Her quirky take on motherhood, family, politics, religion, and women’s lives has resonated with many around the country, and she will be a featured speaker at General Synod 2017 on Saturday, July 1.  General Synod meets every other year and it is the body that steers the work of the United Church of Christ.  People from all walks of life, from all over the country and the world gather to vote on resolutions, elect officers and create a vortex of denominational energy.  This year we will meet in Baltimore, Maryland, and the theme is “Make Glad.”  Gathered in that one body, the delegates that will make up that Synod each bring their own stories, like Sarah’s, that shine a light on both what unites and divides us.

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Well Done, St. John’s UCC, Bluffton!

The United Church of Christ says “Thank You!” to the members of St. John’s UCC for our 2016 contribution of $3,080.00 for Basic Support of Our Church’s Wider Mission:  Changing Lives.

Also, “Thank You!” to the members of St. John’s UCC for being a 5 for 5 Congregation of the United Church of Christ in 2016.  5 for 5 Congregations support Our Church’s Wider Mission Basic Support and the Neighbors in Need, One Great Hour of Sharing, Christmas Fund, and Strengthen the Church Special Mission Offerings of the United Church of Christ.

St. John’s UCC has contributed 87 blankets as part of the special Easter offering.  That totals $870.00 worth of blankets to be distributed world-wide to those in need of shelter and warmth due to natural disasters.

God bless each of you!  Keep up the good work!

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Summer Hours for Sunday School and Worship

Beginning June 4, which is the first Sunday in June, and continuing through September 3, hours for Sunday School and Worship will be at the following times:

Sunday School for Adults–9:00 a.m.

No Children’s Sunday School during the summer

Worship–10:00 a.m.

Please note these times on your calendar so that you will arrive at the beginning of Sunday School and Worship beginning in June.

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Community Vacation Bible School July 16 -July 20

 

Community Vacation Bible School will be held at English Lutheran Church from July 16 through July 20.  Registration forms will be available soon.  St. John’s UCC is responsible to furnish “herders” this year.  Please check with Marci Stahl if you are available to help.  A sign-up sheet is on the podium at the entrance to the sanctuary.

 

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Second Sunday Potlucks Resume in September

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Second Sunday Potlucks during the September through April church year.  The fellowship and food  uplifted those of us who attended the luncheons.

Since many of us travel and are otherwise taking part in activities during the summer months, the potlucks will be on hiatus until September.

Special events scheduled for St. John’s through late spring and summer are listed in a separate article.

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Food Pantry in Need of Supplies

You will notice that the food pantry shelves empty out quickly, especially after the third Saturday distribution takes place.  Out of our abundance, we need to meet the needs of others.  On a Sunday morning, open your cupboard door and pull out a can, box, jar of something and bring it in and place it on the table at the front of the sanctuary.  (Please check expiration dates before bringing in items.)  Thank you!

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This Week at St. John’s UCC

 

Tuesday, June 20–Ladies meet at LuLu’s, 9 a.m.; TOPS, 6 p.m

Wednesday, June 21–Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.

Sunday, June 25–10:00 a.m.–Worship service with  Pastor Carol Clements delivering the message entitled “Changing Fears to Cheers”, based on Matthew 10:24-31.  Dr. Crystal Sellers-Battle will  provide special music titled “His Eye is on the Sparrow”.  All are welcome to attend.

Reminder:  Volunteer gardeners for the upcoming days are to water and weed the church flower beds

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Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen

If you would like to volunteer for helping serve at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Lima on Tuesday, July 25, please sign up on the bulletin board in the sanctuary.  Helpers are always welcome.

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